Illness from raw milk is underreported

Raw milk. I don’t get it. Why would you defend a product with such a high risk of food poisoning? 150 times higher than pasteurized milk.

Raw milk sickens more than widely reported, study says.

The number of consumers sickened by drinking raw, unpasteurized milk far exceeds case counts reported in well-publicized outbreaks, a new study from Minnesota suggests.

In a decade in which 21 Minnesotans were sickened in confirmed outbreaks, an additional 530 possible individual cases were logged in state records, and there may have been 20,000 more unreported cases, says a study published Wednesday in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a publication of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While raw milk is increasingly popular with some consumers interested in natural, unprocessed foods, “it’s important for people to know and understand these risks before they use raw milk or give it to children,” says lead author Trisha Robinson, an epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health. “Pasteurization is around for a reason.”

Public health officials have long warned about the health risks and dismissed anecdotal reports of health benefits as unscientific. A previous CDC study found raw milk was 150 times more likely than pasteurized milk to cause illness outbreaks. Most of the illnesses involve short-lived bouts of diarrhea, but they sometimes involve strains of E.coli bacteria capable of causing kidney failure and death. In one recent outbreak in Tennessee, nine children got sick, five were hospitalized and three developed severe kidney problems, according to state health officials.

The key quote in there is regarding the Naturalistic fallacy – that the natural form of foods is “better” for you. That’s an oversimplification to the point of being wrong. Some processing is of HUGE benefit. Bacteria are not always wholesome and good, that’s why we have processes such as pasteurization. It’s foolish to overlook the risk of raw milk when it provides no tangible benefits, particularly to children. Adults can chose what risk they wish to take with food but it is unethical to serve up such unnecessary risk to children under faulty pretenses.

Meanwhile, raw milk advocacy groups are making specious excuses. The bottom line is, not killing the bacteria IS a hazard. End of story.

  11 comments for “Illness from raw milk is underreported

  1. Barn
    December 12, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    It MUST be better for you! It’s organic! Use that word with anything, and health benefits magically go up!

  2. Barn
    December 12, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    It’s also less nutritious. Almond milk also has about 2 milligrams of calcium per eight ounce serving, compared to about 300 milligrams for cow’s milk. We need about a thousand a day. Guess there are always pills for that, though! They don’t come out of cows, either.

  3. Steve Jenkinson
    December 12, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    What’s funny is tell a raw milk proponent you want to eat a raw steak from the same cow and they’ll probably go in to a long diatribe on how that will make you sick.

  4. Massachusetts
    December 12, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    I’ve seen nifty little pasteurizing machines online for personal use, that handle 1 or 2 gallons, so if you have a backyard goat you are milking, you can have do-it-yourself pasteurization.

  5. Cathy
    December 12, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    Do you need to pastuerise because of the cow or due to the time and germs collected between the cow and the carton? In other words, is unpastuerised milk safe if drunk freshly on the farm?

  6. idoubtit
    December 12, 2013 at 9:58 PM

    I think it’s from the cow and farm implements. But bacteria will reproduce in the milk.

  7. Richard Cornford
    December 13, 2013 at 3:49 AM

    Bacteria contamination of milk can start in the cow. :-

    “When infected with subclinical mastitis, a cow does not show any visible signs of infection. “

  8. Kiljoy616
    December 13, 2013 at 10:02 AM

    Organic or not, raw to me is crazy, I like my food process and then some.

  9. Cathy
    December 15, 2013 at 4:38 PM

    Thanks, there are groups around here that teach kids and families where food comes from and they teach the children to milk the cows and I heard them speaking on the radio about how surprised even some of the parents were that the milk was warm. I’m thinking that the milk from one cow being hand milked would probably be okay if they have ensured all the little hands are clean. It would be the big production farming sites that would more likely be a problem.

  10. December 15, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    My bet is the cows are dirtier than the kids.

  11. idoubtit
    December 16, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    Pediatricians reiterating raw milk is particularly bad for kids and pregnant women.

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